CYS 23-Top 10 ItemsPeople are the leading cause of trash in the environment. Yes, that’s an obvious statement, but many may not consider this when making choices. Luckily, we’re also the solution. 2019 was our 23rd year of Clean Your Streams Day and we are STILL collecting and removing thousands of pounds of trash from our watershed. Part of CYS is removing trash, but another part is analyzing the data that comes to us after the litter is removed and the data cards are collected. After some review, PCS staff noticed some trends and has some suggested New Year’s resolutions.

Overall, single-use food wrappers came in as the #1 type of trash found this year, with 9,683 pieces collected. Additionally, six of the top 10 item types collected were all products that contain plastic; totaling 31,351 pieces of plastic-based garbage. Those plastic products, combined with the food wrappers, resulted in 41,034 pieces of single-use items that were collected from our waterways in a single day. If not disposed of properly, these materials endanger fish and animals, clog up storm sewers and treatment plants, and/or could leech harmful chemicals into our soil and water.

Another noteworthy observation was the difference in litter composition between sites in Wood County and sites in Lucas County. For instance, litter collected in Wood County had a higher percentage of foam pieces and cigarette butts, while Lucas County litter was composed of a higher percentage of plastic beverage bottles. Data like this could be used to encourage municipalities to educate their citizens on disposing of and reducing their respective “problem” items responsibly.

It is now January 2020 and with that comes your New Year’s resolutions! Instead of trying to make large difficult lifestyle changes, consider making a series of smaller ones to help reduce your footprint. Bring a reusable water bottle, use reusable bags for everything (not just groceries), pick up trash that you come across on a walk, store trash with lids on & put it out just before pickup, buy in bulk to reduce packaging, and be aware of the impact of the items you choose to buy.